Breast Cancer and Your Bones

Written by Susan Brady

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. It is estimated that 1 in 8 women develop breast cancer in their lifetime.  This year a projected 40,000 women will succumb to this devastating disease.   As unsettling as this number is, the breast cancer mortality rate, thankfully, is on the decline.  From 1989 to 2015, deaths due to breast cancer have dropped 39%. This decline translates to over 2.4 million deaths averted in the past 2 decades!  Thanks to improved awareness, prevention and medical treatment, women are beating breast cancer! 

However, the improved treatment outcomes and survival rates appear to go hand in hand with the development of osteoporosis and the risk of debilitating fractures.  Results from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study found an increase in fracture risk among breast cancer survivors.  It is important for women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer to be aware of their growing risk for osteoporosis and take action to preserve their bone health.

Women who have had breast cancer may be at increased risk for osteoporosis and fracture for several reasons:

  1. A woman’s risk for developing breast cancer and osteoporosis increases with age.  Because of this, women who develop breast cancer later in life are already at an increased risk for osteoporosis.  Your bones and your breasts share one very important hormone in common: Estrogen.  Estrogen for most of a women’s life protects her bones and keeps them strong and healthy.  The onset of menopause results in the decline in estrogen production, triggering the onset of bone loss.  In fact, the highest rate of bone loss occurs in the first 5 years after menopause.  
  2. Conversely, many breast cancers are fueled by estrogen and grow in response to the production of this hormone.  These types of cancers, known as “ER-positive tumors,” are often treated with hormone therapy that blocks the production and function of estrogen in a women’s body. Medications that act against estrogen can therefore lead to weakening of the bones.  Treatment for breast cancer can also include surgical removal of the ovaries.  Loss of ovarian function leads to a swift onset of menopause and drop in estrogen levels.
  3. Chemotherapy can also effect the ovaries causing a shut down in estrogen production. For younger women, chemotherapy can cause an early onset of menopause resulting in premature bone loss.  One study showed that bone loss continued for more than 2 years from the last cycle of chemotherapy.
  4. There is also evidence that breast cancer itself can impact bone remodeling.  The cancer cells stimulate the production of osteoclasts (cells that break down bone), resulting in increased bone resorption and loss of bone mass.
  5. Lastly, the stress and treatment of breast cancer can cause generalized fatigue, loss of muscle strength, and postural changes leading to an greater chance of falling, and thus, breaking a bone.
     
    There are strategies that you can take to protect your bones if you are undergoing breast cancer treatments or are a survivor! 

5 Strategies to Support your Breasts and your Bones

Nutrition:  A nutrient rich diet will make your body the healthiest it can be. Generous amounts of vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, quality proteins and fiber rich foods will support optimal bone function.  Additionally, following a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and healthy whole grains has been shown to improve overall breast cancer survival rate.

Exercise:  Exercise not only benefits your bones but can also boost overall health during and after cancer treatments. 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week along with 2-3 days of strength exercises can help protect your bones and enhance wellbeing.  Performing balance and posture exercises help you avoid the postural changes associated with aging and surgeries and will decrease your risk of falls.  Exercises can also improve strength and stamina helping to regain mobility needed to resume your daily activities.

Yoga:  Practicing yoga has many bone benefits, including enhancing balance and strength.  It can also combat the fatigue of cancer treatments, improve mood and vitality, and reduce stress, all factors known to affect survival in cancer patients.

Sleep:  Research suggests that the amount of sleep a woman gets is linked to better survival rates from breast cancer as well as reducing the risk of osteoporosis.  Sleep is one way the body repairs and recovers from damage. The deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs between10 pm and 2 am.  

Meditation:  By helping to reduce stress, calm anxiety, and improve sleep quality, mediation can support healing of mind, soul, body and bones.  Chronic stress can interrupt the healing process and speed up bone loss. Meditation can help care for your mind, which is just as important as caring for your body.

Call me today to find out all the ways you can keep your

bones strong and healthy at any stage of life!

703-738-4230

Osteoporosis Nutrition

After being diagnosed with osteoporosis, I began sifting through all the information available on nutrition and osteoporosis, but it was confusing and time consuming. Even though I thought my diet was good, Susan gave me advice on how to make it even better! I benefited very much from Susan’s nutritional advice and guidance for safe and effective exercises. My recent bone scan showed improvements in both my hip and my spine, so I am encouraged that all the changes that I have made are working! ~ M.R.

Alkaline Based Diet

While providing rehabilitation after my two hip surgeries, Susan also educated me in the importance of proper nutrition for strengthening my bones and improving my bone density. She encouraged me to eat an alkaline-based diet and to eliminate the junk food I was so fond of. Not only did I heal quickly, but also the doctors were amazed by the rapid bone growth as noted on my x-rays. I continue to include chia and pumpkin seeds in my diet, as well as other foods that are alkaline based. I honestly have Susan to thank for this complete transformation in my diet which has allowed me to go back to wearing heels which I thought I would never be able to do again. Nutrition matters — I am a perfect example of good bones from good food! ~R.G.

Prescription Holiday

Initially, I went to Susan Brady because my family doctor told me to take a holiday from the prescription bone density medicine that I had been taking it for many years. I avoid dairy since I am lactose intolerant and sensitive to dairy protein. I was confident that Susan could recommend a superior quality calcium, balanced with other supplements that would help provide the nutrients I needed for bone health. In addition to recommendations for supplements, she has evaluated my diet and my exercise regimen, making suggestions as needed. With guidance from Susan I have been able to maintain bone health without additional bone density medicine for several years now. ~K.N.

Proper Exercise and Nutrition

“Susan Brady is very knowledgeable about osteoporosis. In 2016, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis in my lower back. Through proper exercise and nutrition, Susan was able to guide me towards a regimen that would in turn almost reverse my symptoms. Because of her method, I have been able to curb my bone loss, gain strength, and improve my overall health. I feel that I am on the road to a happier, healthier lifestyle thanks to Susan.”~ B.L.

Surgery Rehabilitation

While providing rehabilitation after my two hip surgeries, Susan also educated me in the importance of proper nutrition for strengthening my bones and improving my bone density. She encouraged me to eat an alkaline-based diet and to eliminate the junk food I was so fond of. Not only did I heal quickly, but also the doctors were amazed by the rapid bone growth as noted on my x-rays. I continue to include chia and pumpkin seeds in my diet, as well as other foods that are alkaline based. I honestly have Susan to thank for this complete transformation in my diet which has allowed me to go back to wearing heels which I thought I would never be able to do again. Nutrition matters. I am a perfect example of good bones from good food!” ~R.G.

Susan modeling Weighted Vest

Is Walking Enough to Build Bones? Consider adding a Weighted Vest.

My favorite weight vest is through a company called Challenge Weighted Workoutwear.  It meets all of the criteria for what to look for in a weight vest and is very comfortable to wear.

Check out the weighted vests on their website: Weighted Vests.

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